Editor’s Notes

Who are we to believe?
Bush calls them dissidents Castro calls them U.S.-paid Quislings

Tuesday, March 18, 2003, more than 70 Cubans were arrested for being what Fidel Castro calls Quislings on Washington’s payroll who were operating a Fifth Column.

In a Guest Column below with the title From the other side of the fence — Reflections of Comrade Fidel, Castro says there is a significant difference in the methods of treating prisoners between that used by the United States and those used by Cuba.

“Not one of the mercenaries,” says Castro, “was tortured or deprived of lawyer or trial, even if it was of a summary nature, provided by the law in the case of dangerous aggression.

“Those found guilty have the right to receive visits, access to family facilities, as well as the other legal prerogatives of all prisoners. If at any time their health seriously requires it, they are released. The release has absolutely nothing to do with the demands of imperialism and its allies. 

“We urge the United States to follow Cuba’s example in dealing with its prison population.”

For more on this and other subjects, please find below, From the other side of the fence ­— Reflections of Comrade Fidel.

Who’s telling the truth? We know that Bush and his gang told hundreds of lies to convince Americans to support his attack on Iraq, now proven beyond a shadow of doubt as having been entirely unwarranted. How do we know if Castro is telling us the truth? For starters we can read his Guest Column and see how his words stand up to the tests of time and events.

But let’s keep in mind the hypocrisy of Washington’s position on Cuba. They argue, as do Clinton and Obama, that they’ll not lift the half-century of economic embargo on Cuba until Cuba releases the “dissidents” and has free elections. Bur what about the alleged political prisoners in China and its Communist Party dominated state.

That’s okay. Okay to the degree that the U.S. has humiliated itself to pay for its moronic war by mortgaging capitalist America to communist China.

Under its current leadership Washington has no shame as it destroys a proud legacy.

God help America. It sure needs it.

Meanwhile, take it easy, but take it.

Looking forward

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective
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For those who missed Editor’s Notes, Friday. March 14, 2008, and are wondering how it came to pass that Fidel Castro (of all people) has become a Guest Columnist in your favourite on-line news magazine, I decided to run it again. So far we’ve received only one reader response that you’ll find below on the cover. Every publication thrives on feedback. So put fingers to keys and let them fly. We look forward to more — positive or negative.

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective
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He doesn’t know it, but Fidel Castro (the one and only)
has joined True North Perspective as a Guest Columnist

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

Long before I’d ever heard of Fidel Castro I found a book in a used bookstore published by two American doctors in 1938. There are three things about it that I recall: the first is that some casual friends (a couple) borrowed it (I don’t remember the title); the second is that I never saw the book or the couple again (I’ve forgotten their names); the third I remember clearly: the doctors reported that there was virus in Cuba that entered the body through the soles of bare feet and caused the legs to swell so that the patients were immobilized with pain. The doctors said that they had discovered a serum that when injected caused the swelling and its pain to disappear. The only problem was that most Cubans were too poor to buy shoes. So the obvious cycle developed among those lucky enough to receive the injection.

Through the years it came to my mostly indifferent attention that Cuba, especially in Havana, was a holiday resort and an intensely practiced place of business for American gangsters. The country as a whole lay victim to unbridled exploitation by American businesses in many ventures including the production of sugar.

The next time I was made aware of that island in the sun was when this son of a wealthy landlord entered Havana at the head of a military group strong enough to kick out the gangsters and the greedy, callous corporations.

I remember thinking, “If the guy’s any good, maybe Cubans will be able to buy shoes. I was pleased that my country had decided to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba. After all, we make good shoes here.

Then the Bay of Pigs was added to the growing list of American policy disasters.

In 1965, when I became the chief and bottle washer of the Montreal bureau of the Toronto Telegram, an American gangster, Joseph Bonanno (nicknamed Joe Bannanas) was on the lam. He was under pressure from fellow mafiosa who said they had a perfect fit of cement shoes, and American authorities who found in him a person of interest. To keep breathing he moved from place to place frequently. I put out what few lines I had with the mob and was convinced he wasn’t in Montreal where he had a branch office. Then, one evening with a couple of hours to kill, I decided to call Gramma, Castro’s mouthpiece in print, if you’ll allow just one more note of vernacular, and ask there if they had any news of Bonanno being In Havana. I mean, after all, Havana was a long time underworld hang-out.

Of course I knew he wouldn’t be there. Castro and his team had made sure of that. But, operating on the William Randolph Hearst principle that if there’s no news, make it, I called because I knew that no matter the reply I had a story.

The call was routed to an operator in Miami, Florida. She was very polite and we carried on an occasional friendly conversation. Occasional because the wait was about an hour-and-a-half before she could find an open line for me, and she had other things to do.

When the phone at Gramma was picked up, I identified myself and asked my question. I was put on hold for about fifteen minutes until a male voice responded in perfect English. Again I asked if they had any news of Joseph Bonanno hiding out in Cuba.

The next day, the Toronto Telegram ran the banner line: Havana Denies Joe Bonanno in Cuba.

I considered the call a harmless prank. Something that has been entirely out of the ordinary for me in my practice of journalism. The next time I called Cuba was two weeks ago.

I was looking for copy in relation to International Women’s Day. The media would have plenty about the celebration. I wanted something that they wouldn’t have. All I could find on Google about Cuba were travel agencies. Frustration put a jump-start on my brain and I finally did the obvious: I called the Cuban embassy in Ottawa. I was given advice that proved only lukewarm in human interest but I used it anyway. I asked to have True North placed on the Cuban embassy mailing list. I put True North to bed and went on a Spring Break.

When I returned to battle stations I discovered in a tangle of e-mails, five e-mails from the Cuban embassy. One was about a Canadian going to Cuba for a Terry Fox run. And four pieces from Fidel Castro himself. No they weren’t personal. They were press releases only. But what was remarkable to me was that they were so brief, conditioned as I was to learning about his hours-long speeches.

I had braced myself for thousands of words. I responded with relief and good humour, thinking, Fidel, now that you’ve retired and are only working on your memoires, you’ve just found a part-time job as a guest columnist for True North Perspective. Why not? I argued. We have an image of Fidel Castro that has been handed down to us by a hostile media. Let’s have a look at the man in his own words.

So Fidel, you’re on. We can’t afford to pay you but so long as our readers show interest you’ve got a platform on True North Perspective. So here he is, by press release from the Cuban embassy, in his own words, for better or for worse.

Reader response more than welcomed.

Meanwhile, the True North motto is: there can be no life without laughter and since we only come this way once, we might as well be happy.

Looking forward

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective
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